President's Message Archives

September 27, 2012

Looking Ahead

by Lori W. Nelson

As I begin the year as Bar President I want to first look back at everything Rod Snow was able to accomplish during his year. Most notable is the pro bono project designed by Rod to ensure there is pro bono coverage in each judicial district. Under the leadership of the pro bono committee headed by Rob Rice, James Backman, and Sue Crisman, the new Pro Bono Commission, chaired by Judge Michele Christiansen and Judge Royal Hansen, is prepared to get services to those in our society most in need.

Rod also moved forward the modest means project to match underemployed lawyers with low income individuals who do not qualify for a pro bono attorney. This project, spearheaded by Rob Jeffs, is also designed to meet the needs of the under-served population.

Continue reading "Looking Ahead" »

July 10, 2012

The Jewels on the Hill

by Rodney G. Snow

Thank You
This is my last President’s Message to the Bar. I have had the privilege of meeting many of you, including dozens of our new lawyers. I have made new friends, for which I am grateful. I continue to be impressed by the untold hours of quiet service many of you render for the benefit of the Bar and our community. For that and so many other reasons it has been an honor and pleasure to represent you as your Bar president.

Service is both a responsibility and a reward that comes with being professional. It is what distinguishes a profession from just another business.

As you renew your Bar license this year, please “Check Yes” to volunteer for the opportunity of a pro bono matter or case. Many of you will have read about or seen the video of Meghan Vogel, a track star from West Liberty Salem high school in Ohio, help Arden McMath across the finish line after she had collapsed in a 3400 meter race, ensuring that Arden finished ahead of Vogel. This moment of humanity exhibited in a competitive race should move us to offer our professional services to those who otherwise might not be able to finish their race for justice.

I thank the Bar Commissioners and the Executive Committee for their hard work and support this year. Your Commission provides many hours of service to Bar matters. I acknowledge, once again, the incredible work and service of our Young Lawyers Division and their leaders. The YLD continues to show us the way with their energy, compassion, and extraordinary service. I also express my thanks to John Baldwin, Richard Dibblee, and the entire Bar staff for their patience, support, and assistance this year.

Thank you to Lori Nelson, our President Elect, who has supported and participated in the launch of our new programs and is already working hard in preparation for next year. Lori pays close attention to critical detail and will be a superb President.

I thank my firm, Clyde Snow & Sessions, and my clients for their patience and understanding this past year.

And last but not least I thank my wife Bobbi and our family for their listening ears, support and constructive suggestions.

As many of you know, during the summer of 2002, I was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. It was, of course, a shock. I am not a smoker. Among the possible suspects was acid reflux. I don’t know many lawyers, particularly trial lawyers, who do not experience acid reflux at least occasionally. Get checked and medicated, if necessary. Maalox and Tums may not solve the problem. The “C” experience opened windows and vistas I may have otherwise missed. I am pleased to be working and enjoying life with family and colleagues. My grandchildren who are fascinated with my robot friend (electronic larynx) are persistent in learning how to use it.

I also learned to appreciate the incredible resources and talent we have in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah Medical Center and the S.J. Quinney College of Law, two bright jewels that provide unparalleled service to our community and, indeed, the entire Rocky Mountain region. Of course, there are other jewels at the University of Utah, the business and engineering schools, humanities, and many others.

Continue reading "The Jewels on the Hill" »

May 10, 2012

President's Message

Education on the Fundamentals of Our Government and Democracy is on Life Support: We Can Help
by Rodney G. Snow

As a nation, we are facing some of the most difficult decisions that have challenged us in a long time. Resolving today’s issues requires a citizenry that understands the fundamentals of our democracy. Unfortunately, education regarding our system of government has been lacking for many years. As reported by the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics at the University of Pennsylvania, the “lack of high-quality civic education in America’s schools leaves millions of citizens without the wherewithal to make sense of our system of government.”1 While most high school graduates can name the three judges on American Idol, very few can provide you the number or the names of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court. Surveys conducted over the past decade by the Annenberg Public Policy Center resulted in the shocking findings listed below.

• Only one-third of Americans could name all three branches of government; one-third could not name any.

• Just over a third thought it was the intention of the Founding Fathers to have each branch hold a lot of power, but the President has the final say.

• Just under half of Americans (47%) knew that a 5–4 decision by the Supreme Court carries the same legal weight as a 9–0 ruling.

• Almost a third mistakenly believed that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling could be appealed.

• When the Supreme Court divides 5–4, roughly one in four [Americans] (23%) believed the decision was referred to Congress for resolution; 16% thought it needed to be sent back to the lower courts.2

On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress for civics, more than two-thirds of all American students scored below proficient.3

On the same test, less than one-third of eighth graders could identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and less than a fifth of high school seniors could explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.4

Civic learning is, at its heart, necessary to preserving our system of self-government. In a representative democracy, government is only as good as the citizens who elect its leaders, demand action on pressing issues, hold public officials accountable, and take action to help solve problems in their communities.…To neglect civic learning is to neglect a core pillar of American democracy.5

What has caused this decline in civics education over the last forty or fifty years? Some say it started with the disenchantment of the government brought on by Vietnam and Watergate.6 A primary reason cited is the unprecedented pressure to raise student achievement now measured by the standardized examination of reading and mathematics.7 The acronym STEM is often applied in measuring the value of success of our public and private school systems (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The No Child Left Behind, is also sharing the blame for standardized testing in math and reading. Pressure in these trends seems to have caused education regarding democratic principles to either take a back seat or disappear altogether.

Ironically, one factor driving national standardized testing for reading and STEM is an effort to maintain pace with China. Now, there’s an idea – let’s sacrifice education on the importance of the fundamentals of our democracy and the system we have in place to check government power to stay even with or exceed a people governed by a communist dictatorship where human rights are all but nonexistent8 and free elections are effectively out of the question.9

Did you know the constitution of Cuba is all but identical to ours? Many dictatorships or governments run by the military have written constitutions similar to or patterned after the United States Constitution. Why then is our government so different than that of Cuba or other countries? The people of those nations do not understand their rights and the courts exist for the government – not the people.

A citizenry educated on the concepts of our system of government is critical to our free society. As Abraham Lincoln stated:

Let it [reverence for the laws and Constitution] be taught in schools, seminaries and in colleges; let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, enforced in courts of justice. In short, let it become the political religion of the nation.[10]

Perhaps one of the more famous quotes on this subject is that of Thomas Jefferson, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”11 In 2002, the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, convened a series of meetings involving leading scholars and civic education practitioners to consider the current state of young people’s civic learning and engagement.12 The participants’ conclusions and recommendations were summarized in a 2003 report titled The Civic Mission of Schools.

The key reason the CIRCLE report suggests for our failure to provide effective and meaningful civic education is the lack of institutional commitment to formal civic education.13

Civics Education Program
In some states, civics is not taught at all in junior high or high school. In Utah, civics education is a required course at the high school level. While we are fortunate in that respect, much more could be done.

In July, the Bar Commission created the “Utah State Bar Committee on Civics Education” to work with and facilitate the Bar’s law-related education programs directed by Kathy Dryer. The co-chairs of this committee are Rich McKeown of Leavitt Partners; Christian Clinger at the Institute for Advanced Mediation and a member of the Bar Commission; and Angelina Tsu, who works as legal counsel to Zions Bank. Angelina served on the Bar Commission when she was president of the Young Lawyers Division. This committee, under the direction of its able co-chairs, developed a lesson plan for lawyers and judges to use to teach a one-hour civics course in our high schools, hopefully on a semiannual basis. The lesson course is on judicial independence. Pilot programs have been run in several of our high schools and have been well received.

This is a turnkey operation. Those of you who have already volunteered to participate in this exciting project will be provided a lesson plan you can follow and enhance. Participation will not require a lot of preparation. The lesson plan objectives are:

• To support public education by supplementing high school students’ classroom learning about civics, specifically learning about the judiciary and the rule of law, with an interactive program focusing on analytical and language art skills.

• To instill a sense of responsibility and participation, and appreciation for the rule of law in high school students, specifically graduating, soon-to-be-voting seniors.

• To enable students to identify the three branches of government and the role of each.

• To help students understand the concepts of “separation of powers,” “checks and balances,” and the role of the courts within these concepts.

• To better inform students how judges make decisions and who the court system’s other players are and what roles they play.

• To explore the concept of judicial review and the role of the third branch in examining the constitutionality of written laws and statutes.

Well over 200 lawyers have volunteered for this opportunity. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Christy Abad at the Bar office.

Continue reading "President's Message" »

March 6, 2012

President’s Message

Lend a “Learned Hand” – Check Yes and Volunteer for a Pro Bono Matter
by Rodney G. Snow

Judge Learned Hand was well known as a preeminent jurist and legal philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has been quoted by the Supreme Court more often than any other judge. Judge Hand was an advocate for counsel for the underprivileged. In a speech to the New York Legal Aid Society in 1951, Judge Hand stated, “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shall not ration justice.”

The Honorable Carolyn B. McHugh, Presiding Judge of the Utah Court of Appeals, reported last month at the leadership breakfast for “and Justice for all” that poverty is on the rise in Utah, with an increase between 2008 and 2010 of over 20%.

Continue reading "President’s Message" »

January 12, 2012

Bar Commission Adopts New Policy on Inclusion and Diversity: It is No Longer Black and White

by Rodney G. Snow

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month, we should consider how close we are to living the dream – in particular, Dr. King’s dream that his children will “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Please indulge a few observations regarding diversity from an aging white Bar president. Many of you have worked hard at improving diversity in the legal profession, including our law firms and the bench. We have adopted policies, recruited, and trained with the goal of increasing diversity. We have had some success and some failures. Still we have pursued. We thank you for your efforts at inclusion and diversity. Too often you do not get the recognition for what has been accomplished and for what you have attempted to accomplish in the diversity arena. But reevaluation now and then is a good thing for us all.

Continue reading "Bar Commission Adopts New Policy on Inclusion and Diversity: It is No Longer Black and White" »

September 7, 2011

Practicing Law, a Profession or a Business?

by Rodney G. Snow

This is my first article to the Bar membership. Thank you for your support. It is an honor to serve each of you as bar president. I most appreciate the many friends I have made over the years in the Bar. I always welcome any suggestions you have for a better Bar. In fact, I look forward to hearing from you.

Continue reading "Practicing Law, a Profession or a Business?" »

President’s Message and Invitation

by Jenifer L. Tomchak

Young attorneys often overlook the benefits of being involved in professional organizations. With so much time spent learning your new practice, it is easy to forget the importance of developing professional relationships that will help your future practice. Professional organizations create opportunities for lawyers to network with, get advice from, and commiserate with other practitioners. But these organizations also provide a forum for young attorneys to establish their reputations amongst a large group of potential referral sources. Professional organizations also often organize community service and legal education events. These events help improve the reputation of attorneys in the community, give young lawyers an opportunity to use and develop their legal skills, and, perhaps most importantly, remind us of the importance of our profession.

Continue reading "President’s Message and Invitation" »

July 19, 2010

Keeping Our Core Values (and Sanity) in the Internet Age

by Stephen W. Owens

Passing the Baton

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President. I have enjoyed my year, and now turn the reins over to Rob Jeffs (president) and Rod Snow (president-elect), capable and grounded successors. I also thank my family and law partners for their support this past year.

I love being a lawyer and speaking up for lawyers. Our calling is to help people prevent and solve complex problems in a fair and peaceful way.

Continue reading "Keeping Our Core Values (and Sanity) in the Internet Age" »

March 9, 2010

Helping Unemployed/Underemployed Lawyers

by Stephen W. Owens

I have been talking to and meeting with a number of unemployed/underemployed lawyers who are definitely feeling the contracted economy. The sun will come out tomorrow, but until it does, here are some ideas:

Continue reading "Helping Unemployed/Underemployed Lawyers" »

January 13, 2010

Don’t Tax Justice

by Stephen W. Owens

Our legislature goes back to work shortly, facing another tremendous budget shortfall. Certain policy groups and politicians are considering trying to expand the state’s tax base to include a tax on professional services, which obviously would include lawyers. This consideration is due to the downward shift in Utah’s economy and the belief that Utah’s sales tax structure is still based on archaic manufacturing models rather than services-based realities.

Continue reading "Don’t Tax Justice" »

December 11, 2009

Welcoming 320 New Lawyers Into Our Fold:

A Force of 10,000 Problem Preventers and Solvers

by Stephen W. Owens

On October 20, we swore in 320 new lawyers in a crowded ceremony at the Salt Palace. With this addition, we hit the significant milestone of 10,000 problem preventers and solvers. About a quarter of these are on inactive status. We are a force for good, helping maintain a peaceful and fair society.

My wife tells me that people do not like unsolicited advice, and I am trying to get better at keeping my mouth shut unless asked. Nevertheless, I cannot resist this opportunity to give a little counsel to our new colleagues:

Be Prepared

Continue reading "Welcoming 320 New Lawyers Into Our Fold:" »

September 24, 2009

Protecting the Critical Role of our Fair and Impartial Courts

by Stephen W. Owens

It is a pleasure to take over the reins of the Utah State Bar from Nate Alder, our outgoing President, who has done an extraordinary job. It is also delightful to associate with our very
competent, hard-working, and experienced Bar Commission and Bar Staff (including John Baldwin, Richard Dibblee, and Connie Howard).

I love lawyers and the law. My dad was a lawyer. My brother is a lawyer. I also have plenty of relatives who have found themselves on the other (criminal) side of the law! I will always speak up to defend the value of lawyers to society and their important role in preventing and peacefully solving problems.

Continue reading "Protecting the Critical Role of our Fair and Impartial Courts" »

July 16, 2009

President's Message: Looking Back, Looking Forward

by Nathan D. Alder

No leader knows exactly what he or she will face when taking over the reins of an organization. We anticipate, and hope, that things will turn out in our favor, and that we can positively influence the issues. Sometimes it may turn out easier to serve than one might originally expect; other times it may be exactly as envisioned. But sometimes the service required of a leader is heightened and intensified by dramatically changing conditions. Leaders must rise to the occasion and shepherd their cause to safety when storms suddenly appear.

Continue reading "President's Message: Looking Back, Looking Forward " »

May 18, 2009

Engage in Mentoring

by Nathan D. Alder

I recently attended a Litigation Section CLE luncheon where moderator Jon Hafen asked veteran members of the Bench and Bar to describe the influence of mentors on their early careers. It was a very nice discussion. Then he asked panelists to consider how their legal careers would have turned out had they not had mentors available to them. It was a hypothetical, of course. Given how panelists responded to the first question, the answers to the second question became readily apparent – mentors are invaluable.

Continue reading "Engage in Mentoring" »

March 5, 2009


by Nathan D. Alder

Even as I write this I know that the landscape will change by the time you read this. So much is happening right now. Bar leaders are working very hard to stay on top of all the issues and concerns we face as a profession; now more than ever we need member involvement. It is an honor to be able to serve you at this critical time.

I submit that the Utah State Bar must change as the world changes around us. We need to respond to this rapidly developing environment and make correct decisions that will serve the Bar’s mission well into the future. Don’t be fooled by the notion that our law practices, our profession, the courts, and the Bar will not be affected by what is happening around us. Please allow me to share some thoughts on a variety of issues.

Continue reading "Change" »

June 1, 2004

That Went Fast!

by Debra Moore

It seems like yesterday that I was sworn in as Bar president, but with the end of my term approaching at "warp" speed, it's time to review how the Bar has advanced its mission during the last year. I'm pleased to report that 2003-2004 has been an excellent year, thanks to the dedicated efforts of John Baldwin and the Bar staff, a great Board of Bar Commissioners, and stellar committee and section chairs and other dynamic volunteers throughout the Bar organization. Some highlights of the year include:

Continue reading "That Went Fast!" »

April 2, 2004

By Creating Safe Harbors For Non-Lawyers, the Proposed UPL Rule Will Increase Access to Legal Services

Author; Debra Moore

If you haven't yet focused on developments surrounding the unauthorized practice of law in Utah, now's the time. The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct has recommended adoption of a proposed rule that creates safe harbors for non-lawyers who practice law. Most of us probably assume the practice of law is what lawyers, and only lawyers, do. In a distinct departure from that assumption, the proposed rule defines the practice of law as representing others by applying law to their specific facts and circumstances - regardless of who does it. The proposed rule starts from the premise that only licensed attorneys may practice law, but then creates numerous exceptions that effectively create safe harbors for non-lawyers.

Continue reading "By Creating Safe Harbors For Non-Lawyers, the Proposed UPL Rule Will Increase Access to Legal Services" »

March 2, 2004

“and Justice for all” Nominated for ABA National Public Service Award

On February 6, 2004, the following application was submitted to the American Bar Association to nominate 'and Justice for all" for national recognition. The Utah lawyers who led and contributed to the Access to Justice Task Force and 'and Justice for all" can be justly proud of the truly remarkable and meaningful accomplishments outlined below. The stage is now set for a broader community effort to develop and implement a statewide plan to realize the goal of access to civil justice for all Utah citizens.

Continue reading "“and Justice for all” Nominated for ABA National Public Service Award" »

December 2, 2003

“Unbundling” Legal Services in Utah

Author; Debra Moore

By the time this article appears, the Utah State Bar Commission expects to file a petition with the Utah Supreme Court to amend and adopt rules to allow lawyers to better serve a growing demand for limited legal services Ð also known as unbundled or discrete task services. The petition will seek four key changes:

Continue reading "“Unbundling” Legal Services in Utah" »

November 3, 2003

Adopt the Diversity Pledge

"Good intentions aside, many law firms do not treat diversity as a strategic factor that contributes to the bottom line. That lack of understanding, nonetheless, impacts their bottom line in missed opportunities, wasted resources, and costly turnover."

- Creating Pathways to Diversity: A Set of Recommended Practices for Law Firms (2003), a report of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association

Continue reading "Adopt the Diversity Pledge" »

October 3, 2003

Utah State Bar Members Give $8.9 Million to Legal Services for the Poor

I'm proud to report to you the statistics gathered from the 2003-04 licensing forms on the pro bono work performed, and the monetary gifts to legal services agencies made by members of the Utah State Bar. A total of 1,615 attorneys - 21 % of the Bar - reported performing pro bono service or making monetary donations satisfying Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. These attorneys reported performing a total of 88,125 hours of pro bono work, an average of nearly 55 hours for each attorney - well over the 36 hours per year aspirational goal of Rule 6.1. They also reported giving $111,897 in monetary contributions. Valuing the reported time at a conservative rate of $100 an hour, these numbers represent a total contribution to legal services to the poor of $8.9 million!

Continue reading "Utah State Bar Members Give $8.9 Million to Legal Services for the Poor" »

August 3, 2003

New Bar Programs on the Horizon

In keeping with the theme of this special edition of the Bar Journal, I want to highlight the Bar Commission's important decision to grant $120,000 from unreserved surplus funds to Lawyers Helping Lawyers. Also on the horizon are CaseMaker and the Fall Forum - two new programs that will benefit all members, and in particular the thirty-five percent of us who are solo and small firm practitioners.

Continue reading "New Bar Programs on the Horizon" »

June 4, 2003

The Year in Review

Now that my term as Bar president is drawing to a close, I see the seamless transition of Bar governance much like a track relay team. Each president has the privilege of carrying the baton and running hard for one year and then handing it off to another who is already running at full speed side-by-side when the actual hand-off occurs. On a successful relay team, each runner benefits from and then tries to increase the strides made by previous relay members. In the end, any win is a team victory achieved by all.

Continue reading "The Year in Review" »

May 4, 2003

Substitute House Bill 349 and the Definition of the Practice of Law

In the recently completed session, the Utah Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 349 and Governor Leavitt signed the bill into law. H.B. 349 directly affects lawyers and the practice of law. H.B. 349 consists of two parts: (1) it extends the sunset provision on the current unauthorized practice of law statute until May of 2004; and (2) as of May of 2004, it adopts a very narrow definition of the practice of law that essentially limits law practice to appearances in court. H.B. 349 has drawn considerable attention within our Bar as well as among lawyers around the country (e.g., ABA Journal article and ABA/BNA article). Although we have attempted to keep the Bar membership informed by email concerning these fast-breaking developments, we have email addresses for only about 64% of the Bar - this is a pitch for the rest of you to send us email addresses.

Continue reading "Substitute House Bill 349 and the Definition of the Practice of Law" »

April 4, 2003

Marbury v. Madison

On February 24, 1803 the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Marbury v. Madison. The decision firmly established the principle of judicial review and strengthened the judiciary's role as a co-equal and independent branch of government. Chief Judge John Marshall's opinion was a masterpiece. Lawyers everywhere recognize and quote his famous statements that it is emphatically the province and duty of the courts to say what the law is and that ours is a government of laws, not of men.

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March 4, 2003

Multijurisdictional Practice Rule Approved

In 1999, the Bar formed a task force to study multijurisdictional practice, commonly referred to as MJP, and on January 24, 2003 the Utah Supreme Court approved Utah's rule. A copy of the new rule appears in its entirety on page 10 of this issue and also on the Bar's website.

Continue reading "Multijurisdictional Practice Rule Approved" »

January 4, 2003

Who Are We? - The Demographics of the Utah State Bar

The Utah State Bar at the start of 2003 consists of 7,823 lawyers. Who are we? How old are we? How long have we been members of the Bar? How many of us are women and how many are men? How diverse is the ethnicity of our Bar? In what settings do we practice law? How many of us are not practicing law? Where do we live? With the help of some graphics, I'll answer these questions for you.

Continue reading "Who Are We? - The Demographics of the Utah State Bar" »

December 7, 2002

Supreme Court Committee on Delivery of Legal Services Submits Its Report

The Utah Supreme Court's Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services has completed its work and on September 5, 2002 submitted its report to the full Court. The report and its conclusions should be of interest to every Utah lawyer. At the risk of oversimplification,1 the essence of the Committee's work has been to focus on which co-equal branch of government (the Legislature or the Court) governs the "practice of law"; survey the ways in which legal services are being delivered cost effectively to Utahns; and explore avenues by which competent legal assistance may be provided on a larger and more efficient scale to more citizens (particularly the middle class).

Continue reading "Supreme Court Committee on Delivery of Legal Services Submits Its Report" »

November 7, 2002

Dialogue on Freedom- A Resounding Success!

By any measure, the Utah State Bar's Dialogue on Freedom program was a resounding success. A small number of discussions are still being scheduled in schools and therefore the final results will not be known for a few months. However, the lion's share of activity occurred during the week of September 9-13, which Governor Michael O. Leavitt declared as Dialogue on Freedom Week. During that week alone, 1,292 discussions were led in junior high and high school classrooms in more than 110 schools. More than 35,000 students participated.

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October 7, 2002

The Community Legal Center Becomes a Reality through the Efforts and Generosity of Many

This month the nation's first Community Legal Center will open its doors to the public right here in Utah. The former Morrison and Merrill Building located at 205 North 400 West is the site of the new Community Legal Center. (See photograph of building on opposite page.) The 30,000 square foot building was recently refurbished by its prior owner the Olafson Group, which generously donated $400,000 toward the $4 million project. The building was purchased in March of this year by "and Justice for all," a non-profit corporation known by most Utah lawyers as the joint fund-raiser for the state's three leading providers of free civil legal services to lower-income individuals and families - the Disability Law Center, the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake and Utah Legal Services. Their efforts promote economic and family stability, fight injustice, and help people help themselves.

Continue reading "The Community Legal Center Becomes a Reality through the Efforts and Generosity of Many" »

August 7, 2002

Dialogue on Freedom - An Opportunity for Utah Lawyers to Make a Difference

"You're an American teenager flying off to an exotic vacation. But your plane has engine trouble and you're forced to land in the country of Quest - a place where the average worker makes only $2 a day, where the political leadership is corrupt, and where anti-democratic sentiment is gathering strength. The people you meet challenge your beliefs. They blame America for their difficulties, and believe that authoritarian rule is their best hope. What can you say to them?"

Continue reading "Dialogue on Freedom - An Opportunity for Utah Lawyers to Make a Difference" »

June 7, 2002

Read this Please! (at least read some of it)

The United States Congress has passed a law recently which could create real problems for lawyers. I'm concerned that many lawyers are unaware of this law and may inadvertently find themselves in violation.

I'm referring to Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This is a banking law that requires financial institutions to send notices to customers informing them of the institution's privacy policy. Essentially it was passed to prevent credit card companies from selling customer lists without informing the customers. You probably have received a few of these from your bank or credit card company. The problem is that the FTC has determined that lawyers and law firms in many instances may be "financial institutions" within the meaning of the Act and are, therefore required to send their clients these privacy policy notices.

Continue reading " Read this Please! (at least read some of it)" »

April 7, 2002

Lionel Frankel

The legal profession in Utah is not as rich as it was just one month ago. We have lost one of our finest teachers and exemplars of the law: Professor Lionel Frankel. Some of us spent a few hours in the classroom with him some time during Lionel's long tenure. Maybe we learned enough Criminal Law or Commercial Code to get us through the Bar Exam. But more importantly, those of us who have known Lionel through the years have learned something about how one should live.

Continue reading "Lionel Frankel" »

March 7, 2002

Is the Office of Professional Conduct the Grand Inquistor? - What Lawyers Need to Know if Faced with a Bar Complaint

Without doubt the most unpleasant interaction any lawyer may have with the State Bar occurs upon the filing of a "bar complaint." Although most lawyers will never be faced with a complaint, many will, no matter how careful or ethical they may be. Some complaints are warranted; others are not. For lawyers who practice in certain areas (notably domestic law) bar complaints are as inevitable as death or taxes.

Continue reading "Is the Office of Professional Conduct the Grand Inquistor? - What Lawyers Need to Know if Faced with a Bar Complaint" »

January 7, 2002

A Prayer for the Professions

The Utah Supreme Court has established a commission to address the problem of unprofessionalism in the legal profession. This commission is to be chaired by Justice Mathew Durrant. The Court has expressed real concern that this problem is serious and growing. Courts across the country have established similar commissions to study whether the phenomenon of incivility and unprofessionalism is becoming more widespread or is limited to a few bad actors. These commissions are studying possible responses the courts or the Bar should make.

Continue reading "A Prayer for the Professions" »

December 7, 2001

The Sayings of D. Frank Wilkins

The real joy of serving on the Bar Commission comes in the friendships and associations that develop. Judge D. Frank Wilkins is one of the truly remarkable people I have known. As I sat with him at Commission meetings, I frequently marveled at his eloquent statements. After I served about three years, I began to record his sayings as best I could. I deeply regret that I didn't start writing them down sooner. Let me share a few of my favorites:

Continue reading "The Sayings of D. Frank Wilkins" »

November 7, 2001

What Lawyers Can Do in Times Such as These

Shortly after the terrorist attack of September 11, it became apparent that many Utah reservists and members of the Utah National Guard would likely be activated. In addition, Utah members of the military may be deployed overseas. As a consequence, these women and men and their families may require legal services they would not have otherwise required. On October 5, the Bar sent an e-mail request for pro-bono volunteers to all Bar members who have e-mail addresses on file. I am pleased to report that the response has been overwhelming. Within three days 122 lawyers volunteered to help. In addition several firms comprising 105 additional lawyers volunteered. The entire Cache County Bar Association volunteered. The University of Utah College of Law pro bono project volunteered to provide research or clerk services.

Continue reading "What Lawyers Can Do in Times Such as These" »

October 8, 2001

The Bar, the Courts, the Legislature and the Unauthorized Practice of Law

I am writing this article the second week of September. By the time you read it in the October Bar Journal, you may know more about this issue than I do now, since much is likely to happen between now and October 1. My hope is that I can provide background information for Bar members so if the story hits the media fan, everyone will understand how this problem developed historically and what our options as a profession are. Let me say at the outset that this is a rather convoluted story, as the legislative process is a convoluted process. This issue is important for our profession, however, because I believe what is happening in the legislature now on the issue of unauthorized practice is symptomatic of deeper legislative dissatisfaction with the way the legal profession is regulated. I tell this story from my personal perspective which is somewhat unique, since I am a member of the legislature as well as current Bar President.

Continue reading "The Bar, the Courts, the Legislature and the Unauthorized Practice of Law " »

August 8, 2001

Show Me the Money!

In the last month most of us have experienced one of the more painful interactions we have with the Utah State Bar - the payment of the annual licensing fees. There was a time when as a government employee or member of a large firm, I didn't really mind the fee, since I didn't pay it out of my pocket. But now as a sole practitioner, when I write the check, I feel the pain.

Continue reading "Show Me the Money!" »

June 8, 2001

Preparing for Practice in 2010

We are in the new millennium, and even comfortable with it. We passed the Y2K crisis without any real disasters. Some suggest the talk of "future shock" is overblown. I, however, agree with Bill Gates who suggested we overestimate the change which will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change which will occur in the next ten years. Looking back, we see little change since 1998, but significant change since 1990. Similarly, in 2010 we may marvel at the primitive way of practicing law back in 2000.

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May 8, 2001

Choosing the Future of the Bar

The San Juan River in Southern Utah winds through canyon walls of steep rock, formed of many layers formed over millions of years. The river is most famous for its goosenecks, created as the water winds its way through the stone of least resistance. The river may travel a mile to go a hundred yards in straight-line distance. The San Juan River's wearing process has created interesting features, one of which is the "perched meander."

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March 8, 2001

Sharing, Selecting and Supporting

In 1999, my wife visited a former Soviet bloc country. She remarked on the efficiency of traffic law enforcement there. If your car is stopped by an officer, you may pay or go to jail until you pay. You are not in jail awaiting trial, because there is no trial; the officer is investigator, witness, prosecutor and judge.

Fortunately, we have more opportunities to be heard and participate under our system of government. This article will summarize three civic opportunities.

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December 13, 2000

Should We Be Able to Practice Law Everywhere We Can Drive a Car?

by David O. Nuffer

When I leave St. George and drive past the Arizona border (six miles away) or past the Nevada border (30 miles away), I never think about my driver's license. I just sail (observing speed limits, of course) past the "Welcome" sign. What would happen to the race track in Evanston, the casinos in Wendover or the convenience store in Idaho selling lottery tickets if Utahns could not drive out of state? Our right to drive in states other than the one that granted a driver's license is unquestioned. Even foreign countries allow us to drive.

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November 13, 2000

Pick Your Next Partner: Social Worker? CPA? Insurance Agent? Engineer?

by David O. Nuffer

Lawyers, presently prohibited from sharing fees or management with other professionals, may soon be able to form professionally diverse partnerships. Affiliations of diverse professionals are referred to as “Multidisciplinary Practice.” While the ABA and several large eastern states have rejected the concept of MDP, three western states are moving forward to allow MDPs. Many other states, including Utah, are still in the decision-making process. Utah's Task Force has just released its Preliminary Final Report on Multidisciplinary Practice. Your views are needed before the report will be final.

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August 2, 2000

Improve the Bottom Line - Serve on a Committee

by David O. Nuffer

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, the owner of a small business in Illinois explained why he tells his employees to get involved in volunteer organizations. “They learn more in a few years of volunteer activity than they will learn in 25 years on the job.” He said that every skill learned in volunteer work transfers to his business. Transferring skills makes the employee think about those skills in new ways.

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